BYFIELD — When Sylvia Jordan came to Newbury Elementary School as principal three years ago, Triton Superintendent Sandra Halloran asked her to envision what it would look like if Triton had a program for gifted students.
Imagining a gifted program for the district was an exciting vision for Jordan, who has an extensive background in creating and overseeing gifted and talented programs, including serving as chairwoman of the Massachusetts Department of Education Gifted and Talented Program.
Then, in 2007, one of the state Department of Education grants Jordan applied for came through to help plant the seeds for a gifted program. The $35,000 grant funded the costs of creating professional development for teachers, administrators and parents about the various aspects of gifted education; purchasing curriculum, software and screening materials; setting up a district task force for the gifted; and setting up a process to identify gifted students.
In the summer of 2007, Triton elementary school principals, along with Halloran and Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Willis and a few teachers, spent a week at the University of Connecticut learning about gifted programs and how to implement and manage them and identify gifted students.
A Gifted/Talented Education Program was put in place for students in grades four through six for this school year at the Newbury, Rowley and Salisbury elementary schools. In addition, some third-graders are now being identified for the program and some after-school math programs for the gifted are taking place at the middle school.
Identifying the gifted student
According to the U.S. federal definition, a student who is gifted and talented is: one who gives evidence of high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who requires services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities.